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The Copywriter's Handbook: A Step-By-Step Guide To Writing Copy That Sells

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  3,861 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
The Copywriter's Handbook is somewhat out of date. There are no references to Web sites or the Internet, and author Robert W. Bly advises that a freelance copywriter have a good typewriter. No matter. Bly has compiled an incredibly useful resource for budding, and even experienced, copywriters. Bly calls his book "a step-by-step guide to writing copy that sells." And that ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published March 15th 1990 by Holt Paperbacks (first published 1985)
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Community Reviews

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Maura
Aug 04, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The three stars are because I imagine this book must be very helpful for those who write copy, yet I didn't find this book particularly useful nor engaging myself. I didn't find anything worth taking notes on.

My takeaways were:
Be clear.
Be brief.
Use understandable yet incorrect grammar if it helps with being both clear and brief (e.g. sentence fragment: Now!)
Explain the customer's benefit not just why the product is great.
Direct ads that sell are better than elegant, artful ads that don't sell.
Y
...more
Jennifer
Bly does exactly what he recommends - deliver the facts. I think I had to pause every other sentence just to think for a second and actually process the information. This is a textbook and therefore takes a lot of concentration. The information is excellent, however I give it 3 stars because it doesn't cover all of the aspects of copywriting that I encounter. I think copywriting also has to do with branding these days and the copywriting that Bly does is really only about sales. For sales copywr ...more
Andrew
I think I read the third edition the first time. I ordered a copy, but I think this one is the first or second. it's quite different which is a bit surprising. I actually think this one is better - if my original review is accurate. it's pretty hard to say as most of the information in the book is fairly general. there's not much in here not in a dozen other books. It was nice to have it presented again though!
Matt
Aug 30, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As a professional software developer rather than a copywriter, my assessment may be unfair, but The Copywriters's Handbook disappointed me. My biggest writing desire is to write persuasively in the shortest amount of space. While the book did teach some of that, there was plenty that was completely uninteresting to me.

My best suggestion is to read the book, but be prepared to skip outright the chapters that won't interest you. You have no need to write a brochure? Good, don't read the brochure c
...more
Achie
Aug 05, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: advertising students, beginners in copywriting
I must say that this is a very handful book for advertising students as well as for beginners in copywriting. You can say this is a sort of a manual-book in copywriting. What I like about this book is that it provides wide examples of effective headlines, sub-headlines even direct-mails(Sometimes I used them for my assignments, hi3x).

I used this as reference while I studied advertising in university and it really helped me in understanding the fundamental of copywriting.

If I am a lecturer, I wil
...more
Tyshawn Knight
Apr 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You have to buy this book. You can't just check it out from your library. You will refer to it again and again if you plan to write for businesses. I think you should buy it if you are self-employed. It will teach you how to create a quick flier and save money. Then you can hire copywriters for the big writing jobs and whip out the little jobs in minutes.
Andres Torrubia
Dec 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is coming from a non-English native in need of the basics to write web copy:

I really liked this book because it got to the point with examples; there's the usual MBA BS (the 4 Us: urgent, unique, useful and ULTRA-specific... wait... specific doesn't start with U :-) ).

Teatum
Jan 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great starting point, I can see why it's a classic. Vocalizes some of the things about writing you already knew, but assigns terminology to them. Good reference/brush-up book as well.
Amanda
Jun 04, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was useful but so outdated that you'll get more practical advice by reading social media/email marketing blogs that publish tips like this daily.
Michael Wall
OK read, but agree with other reviews that quite a bit has changed since the book was last updated. The straightforward, hard-sell philosophy seems to go against the tenets of neuromarketing and the age of storytelling. All things with the likeability factor seem to go right out the window, except for the advice on the conversational tone. Some examples in this book seem to contradict his advice at times. And a lot seem suited for an audience that is at awareness level one only, before the copyw ...more
Don Sevcik
May 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Get inside the mind of a guy who's been at this over 25 years. He's worked with multiple businesses in multiple industries. If you read nothing else in this book, read the section about headlines. The simple step-by-step process for headline creation is worth its weight in gold.

Bly is a technical practitioner and a chemical engineer, so you get an interesting perspective on writing and the thought process behind writing to sell a product or service.
Liz
Jan 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great stuff in the first half about copywriting, the rest is somewhat out of date by now.
Trudy
Feb 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The three stars are because I imagine this book must be very helpful for those who write copy, yet I didn't find this book particularly useful nor engaging myself. I didn't find anything worth taking notes on.

My takeaways were:
Be clear.
Be brief.
Use understandable yet incorrect grammar if it helps with being both clear and brief (e.g. sentence fragment: Now!)
Explain the customer's benefit not just why the product is great.
Direct ads that sell are better than elegant, artful ads that don't sell.
Nicholas
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shahryar
Jan 12, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
کتاب رو یکی از دوستانم بهم قرض داد که بخونم تا شاید در کارهای جدیدم بتونه بهم کمک بکنه. انتشارات سیته این کتاب رو در ایران ترجمه کرده که کلا کار تخصصیاش نشر و پخش کتابهای تبلیغی و تجاری هست. کتاب واقعا خوبیه. نکتههای جالب زیادی داره و کلا برای یادگیری نویسندگی تبلیغاتی و تکنیکهای عمومی هنر نوشتن، خیلی به درد بخوره.

ولی یک مشکل بزرگ داره و اونم اینه که کلا زیاد به درد ایرانی جماعت نمیخوره. یعنی اگر من یک آمریکایی بودم، به کمک راهنمایی این کتاب قطعا یک شغل تبلیغاتی با درآمد سالانه 50 هزار دلاری رو
...more
Jeffrey Jenkins
I mean, for sure, it's important to be concise and think about the 'why' of copy. Are you trying to sell John Deere tractors? Rather than simply talk about your product and how great it is unto itself, Bly commands you to highlight the benefits for the customer. The tractor has a powerful motor, so that you, the consumer, can more efficiently (and quickly) mow your lawn, so you can enjoy a nice glass of straight vodka with expediency. Anyway, this book is boring and could be summarized in a nice ...more
Byron
Jul 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2013
An abundance of timeless advice on selling, writing copy, being a freelance business-person, and an effective contributor to the bottom line is contained within these pages. There are many details that are out-of-date and don't really apply in today's world of technological marvels and this book may not be the go-to handbook it was when published in 1990. Still, it is a good jumping-off place for someone exploring the field of copywriting and advertising. And it's still good to have around as a ...more
Allison
Oct 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great tips and methods for writing effective copy that sells. However, there were a few things I felt it lacked. On the back of the book, it says it tells you "how to build a successful freelance copywriting practice" and there was no chapter on this -- just a chapter on how to get a job at an agency or other firm and how freelancing is an inferior choice to this. There is also not much on web copy that I feel is particularly relevant, but that is mostly because this book was published in 2006 a ...more
Chris Norbury
Good, but slightly dated reference for anyone interested in copywriting. I would have liked more information about online freelance sites and how to deal with the job-finding sites such as Freelancer.com, Guru.com, or Elancer.com.

Otherwise, the author gave a nice breakdown of styles and requirements for various types of copywriting, which are still valid today.
Taylor Minor
Nov 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bought this book for a college course -- "Advertising Copywriting." Overall, I found this book very useful. It will be a resource in which I can look back to in the future; definitely not a "one-time" read.

I highly suggest this book to anyone trying to learn about copywriting, or even those who are quite advanced. There is useful information for all types of people.
Razvan Rogoz
Dec 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Decent. Not amazing but good enough. A lot of repetition though and after a while, you tend to get bored to hear the same things again and again. Deals a lot with the psychology of copywriting and not very much with the how-to. However, there are some practical gems in this, even if a lot of them are common sense after a few years in this craft.
David Pederson
Feb 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: marketing
The book is filled with more informative help than any other on this topic. What really impressed me is how down-to-earth this guy's writing is. He really uses his own guidelines and makes you feel like you're having a great conversation with a friend.
Rediningrum
Aug 14, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: copywriter
Shelves: copywriting
Buku pegangan cara menuliskan suatu yang dapat mengundang orang untuk mebeli bahkan melakukan sesuatu... Butuh bakat strategik dan analitik bagi pelaku, ditambah keterampilan lewat latihan tentu saja... Nice to read for anyone who wanna be a copywriter...
Sharon Tan
Nov 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book that definitely suits its target audience i.e. copywriters or beginners in advertising. I for,action comes succinct and to the point as well, which I greatly appreciate. Overall, a useful read.
Ann Simmons
Jul 01, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing
My reaction to this book was mixed. Some parts I found helpful and thought-provoking; other parts seemed dated or unrelated to my own writing needs - I read it to inspire and improve my blogging. Overall, though, it's good.
Sue Bridehead (A Pseudonym)
I've already rated this book and I'm not even halfway through it. Though my friends like to think I'm artsy, it's all a big lie. Deep down I'm a sales person. A pretty lousy one, on account of my poncy liberal education. Thus this book.
Richard Stephenson
I liked it.

Had a nice mixture of immediately useful take-aways and "things I need to permanently commit to memory." Quite a bit out-dated considering the GIGANTIC EXPLOSION that is the WWW... but still some useful bits.
David Wolff
Jun 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nuttig en praktisch boek voor copywriters, helaas weinig over het echte reclameschrijven en had graag nog meer inspirerende voorbeelden gezien.
Cẩm Chi
Cẩm Chi translated in 2009
Daniel Mihai Popescu
Not bad, logical. Essential for any individual with marketing aspirations :)
I like the author's website, precious; bly.com ; Wow!
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